Just over 100 horses strutted their stuff for the CCI3* judges at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, with all passing the first horse inspection.
The 101 starters in the feature class include several past winners, including William Fox-Pitt (2010, 2012), Pippa Funnell (1993, 1995, 2003, 2004), Polly Stockton (1998), Piggy French (2011), and Francis Whittington (2014). International riders from 12 countries include 2013’s winner, Aoife Clark (Ireland), New Zealanders Blyth Tait, Tim Price and Caroline Powell; Australians Chris Burton, Sam Griffiths, and Andrew Hoy; and riders representing the USA include Lauren Keiffer, Clark Montgomery, and Emily Beshear.
Competition starts on Thursday, with the first rider into the arena Pippa Funnell with Carol Toliver’s Mirage D’Elle. The last rider of the day, scheduled for 5pm, will be Kitty King with Ceylor LAN.
The 2014 winner of the CIC3* for eight and nine-year-old horses, New Zealand’s Jonelle Price, is entered in that class again, this time riding Cloud Dancer II.
This class, with 74 starters, gets under way at 9am, and the first pair to perform their dressage test will be Caroline Powell and Stellor Seaurchin. The final combination to go before the judges will be Jonelle Price on Cloud Dancer II at 3.07pm.
There are also classes at Blenheim for amateur riders, offering the rare chance to compete at such a prestigious and spectacular venue.
Blenheim also has an array of other activities, including the Attractions Arena which features a variety of equine and non-equine displays and masterclasses, and the Learning Area visitors can listen to interviews with top figures from the equestrian world, watch demonstrations and join in question-and-answer sessions.
The Cookery Theatre showcases top local chefs and offers spectators the chance to polish up their culinary skills.
Organisers say ticket sales are up 10% year-on-year.